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For years, when IT departments considered ERP software, they went to J.D. Edwards, Oracle, SAP or one the manufacturing-centric packages now marketed by Infor. Among the latter is the Manufacturing, Accounting and Production Information Control Systems (MAPICS), developed by IBM 30 years ago. ERP itself is derived from a 1960s manufacturing term, materials requirement planning (MRP). With that history, it is easy to understand ERP's manufacturing centricity.

However, there has always been an ERP-like product set in other industries. In healthcare delivery, the resource is primarily the caregiver's time. In retail, the MRP idea gets flipped and is called merchandise management. In financial services, resource planning revolves around customer acquisition/retention. As with the familiar manufacturing-centric ERP concept, there is always an accounting tie-in -- patient/insurance billing in healthcare delivery, open-to-buy accounting in retailing, demand deposit accounting in banking, and so forth. Inventory control is also a key ingredient in these other industries as it is in manufacturing. In financial services the inventory is money.

This little ERP history lesson is important for understanding BPM in financial services. Just as there were "ERP software" providers for financial services, including Digital Insight (now part of Intuit), Fiserv, I-flex (which spun out of Citicorp and is now part of Oracle), Misys, MYND/PMSC and Hogan Systems (now both part of Computer Sciences Corp.), and Temenos, now there are finance-specific BPM options, such as Kaulkin Information Systems, Clear Technology (acquired by Versata in May 2008), and DST Systems. And just as the ERP world -- in all industries -- has been turned upside down by mergers and acquisitions and changes in strategies by market leaders and followers alike, BPM in financial services is marked by interest by horizontal players (Adobe, CSC and others) as well smaller suppliers changing strategy.

Looking at the ERP market lineup and how its participants now play strongly in BPM, it is not surprising then that many of the packaged financial services-specific application suppliers are also moving into BPM. In fact, BPM market leader Pegasystems traces its roots to being a provider of banking automation software in the 1980s, primarily in support of what is now known as CRM. In the process, Pegasystems developed the PegaRULES Engine and became more of a BPM supplier than a packaged application supplier.

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